Retinoblastoma protein functions as a molecular switch determining white versus brown adipocyte differentiation
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Adipocyte precursor cells give raise to two major cell populations with different physiological roles: white and brown adipocytes. Here we demonstrate that the retinoblastoma protein (pRB) regulates white vs. brown adipocyte differentiation. Functional inactivation of pRB in wild-type mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) and white preadipocytes by expression of simian virus 40 large T antigen results in the expression of the brown fat-specific uncoupling protein 1 (UCP-1) in the adipose state. Retinoblastoma gene-deficient (Rb - / -) MEFs and stem cells, but not the corresponding wild-type cells, differentiate into adipocytes with a gene expression pattern and mitochondria content resembling brown adipose tissue. pRB-deficient MEFs exhibit an increased expression of the Forkhead transcription factor Foxc2 and its target gene cAMP-dependent protein kinase regulatory subunit RIa, resulting in increased cAMP sensitivity. Suppression of cAMP-dependent protein kinase activity in Rb -/-MEFs blocked the brown adipocyte-like gene expression pattern without affecting differentiation per se. Immunohistochemical studies revealed that pRB is present in the nuclei of white but not brown adipocyte precursor cells at a developmental stage where both cell types begin to accumulate lipid and brown adipocytes express UCP-1. Furthermore, pRB rapidly undergoes phosphorylation upon cold-induced neodifferentiation and up-regulation of UCP-1 expression in brown adipose tissue. Finally, down-regulation of pRB expression accompanies transdifferentiation of white into brown adipocytes in response to ß3-adrenergic receptor agonist treatment. We propose that pRB acts as a molecular switch determining white vs. brown adipogenesis, suggesting a previously uncharacterized function of this key cell cycle regulator in adipocyte lineage commitment and differentiation.
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - 2004|